Pitt faced a struggling Syracuse team Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome and were unable to build off their win against Clemson on Thursday night, losing 80-72.
The Panthers (11-10 overall, 2-8 ACC) were unable to contain the Orange (9-10 overall, 2-7 ACC) from 3-point range, 13-for-32, 40.6%, and could not take advantage when the Orange had scoring droughts late in the game. The Orange extended their winning streak over the Panthers to 21 games, with the Panthers’ last win in the series coming in Jan. 2009.
Both teams started off with some great offense, with Syracuse holding a slight 16-15 edge at the first media timeout.
The Panthers were exploiting the weak interior zone defense of the Orange due their lack of size, while the Orange were spreading the floor and looking to find the open 3-pointer, starting out 4-for-7 from behind the arc.
Pitt took the lead, 25-20, after going on a 10-4 run to end the quarter, as senior guard Jayla Everett led with five points and redshirt sophomore forward Cynthia Ezeja scored four points. Pitt scored 20 of their 25 points in the first quarter in the paint, exposing Syracuse’s zone.
The Panthers changed their offensive strategy in the second quarter, as they strayed away from attacking the paint and chose to shoot more from 3-point range. This proved to not work in the Panthers’ favor, as they missed all eight 3-pointers they took during the quarter, with junior guard Destiny Strother missing six of them.
Pitt was incredibly sloppy with the ball, turning it over 16 times in the first half alone. Syracuse took advantage of this, scoring 15 points off those turnovers.
The Orange also adjusted to the Panthers’ attacking the paint, as they used their lack of size to draw charges. The Panthers were called for four charges in the first half and had a difficult time building rhythm offensively.
Syracuse didn’t shoot as well in the second quarter, 8-for-21, 38.1%, but were able to play well defensively and only committed one turnover to Pitt’s seven. Syracuse outscored Pitt, 24-14, in the period and took a slight lead, 44-39, into halftime. Senior guards, Chrislyn Carr and Christianna Carr (no relation), lead the team with seven points.
The Panthers cut the lead back to three in the first two minutes of the third quarter, with Strother finally making the team’s first 3-pointer of the game.
The Orange responded with a 14-4 run over the next four minutes to take their largest lead of the game, 63-50. Graduate guard Najé Murray led her team on the run with eight points off two 3-pointers and a layup.
Pitt cut the lead back to five, 63-58, by going on an 8-0 run to end the period, with sophomore guard/forward Liatu King scoring four points to lead her team.
The Panthers did cut the lead back to two with 9:05 left in the fourth quarter, but a 3-pointer by Murray and a layup by graduate forward Alaysia Styles put the Orange up by seven.
Pitt did manage to keep Syracuse scoreless over the next four minutes and had many chances to get the lead, but were only able to score three points during this time.
Pitt also went back to trying to get points from deep, but shot 0-for-7 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, which didn’t help their comeback efforts.
Syracuse went on an 8-0 over one minute late in the period to take a 10-point lead and were able to finish off Pitt at home to take the victory.
It was a combination of poor shooting and inexplicable misses in the paint over the course of the fourth quarter that stopped the Panthers from beating a team that, on a somewhat better day, they would have beaten.
They were able to limit their turnovers in the second half to just six compared to 16 in the first half and outrebounded the Orange, 62-39 overall, but couldn’t shoot well enough to get the win.
The 2-for-21, 9.5%, shooting from 3-point range was the second worst 3-point shooting this season for the Panthers, with the 0-for-6 3-point shooting against Texas A&M being the worst.
Pitt will look to get back to winning ways against Duke this Thursday night, 6 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.